While in New Mexico I encountered a white man who was a retreat facilitator. He shared with us the story of his encounter with some Native people of New Mexico. These Native people shared with him their kiva. A kiva is a room where some of their most honored rituals take place. This white man later returned and asked to rent the kiva for a small gathering of people on retreat. The Native people refused to rent him the kiva. The white man politely asked why. The Native people replied that they were happy to extend the use of the kiva for his gathering but they would not rent it to him. This white man accepted their gift and used their kiva free of charge. This white man learned a valuable lesson, everything is not for sale. There are other ways of understanding the material world. The Europeans that invaded this land, and their descendents, transformed almost everything into a commodity. Black slaves were stolen and for sale. Land was stolen and sale. Today, water is for sale. The earth is for sale. People are for sale. Almost everything is for sale. Yet, this poor tribe offered the use of their kiva for free.
Today in many liturgical Christian churches the Massacre of the Innocents is remembered (see scripture text at the end of this post). It tells of how Herod, a Roman leader at the time of the birth of Jesus, had the children in Bethlehem – two years old and under – killed in order to protect his power from the foretold coming Jewish Messiah, known to us as Jesus. Upon the arrival of Europeans, Native people became a modern day massacre of the innocents. Estimates of this genocide of Native persons in America are conservatively estimated at 50 million people. Of those that that remain, Native tribes continue to suffer to this day; economically, mentally, socially, and culturally. Yet, among the ranks of remaining Native people are some of the most generous, kind and forgiving people.
Today, the culture of violence continues. Deforestation. Genocide. Pollution of the air. Pollution of the water. Slaughter of animals. Rape of the land. Yet, at the same time, generous hearts and minds of Native people remain to witness to the need to honor all creation. How do you promote healing? How do you participate in the slaughter of the innocent through your diet, your purchases and practices? To change we must be willing to do the rigorous work of reflection through silence, solitude and simplicity of life. A friend recently reminded me of these three things which I value but from which I had temporarily strayed. We all can serve as reminders of what matters most. We’re called to serve as a witness against the slaughter of the innocent and participate in healing.
I know of no better way to daily stay centered in healing and gentleness than through a life of meditation, loving-kindness and mindfulness. These disciplines awaken us to compassionate living. These disciplines are a prayerful way to move through your day. Resources for each discipline is contained on this and other websites. For those who like lists, here’s one way to approach this process of transformation:
Step 1 Meditation *daily for a minimum of 20 minutes for balanced living.
Step 2 Metta *a way to honor all creation with loving-kindness.
Step 3 Mindfulness *the cultivation of being appropriately present to each moment.
These three are tightly connected and in a sense are one. This is simply one approach to the transformation of our hearts, consciousness and actions. Enjoy the journey.
anthony glenn miller
There is nothing more yielding than water,
yet when acting on the solid and strong,
its gentleness and fluidity
have no equal in any thing.
The weak can overcome the strong,
and the supple overcome the hard.
Although this is known far and wide,
few put it into practice in their lives.
Chapter 78 – Tao Te Ching
The Massacre of the Infants
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”